Friday, June 15, 2007

Song of the Salvia

I can't contain my excitement when the Salvia blooms. The fragrance is so perfect; sweet, herby, green, minty but dry, and incredibly open feeling as the volatile oil escapes from the leaf and blossom, awakening my eyes, throat, nose, and brain. I love stepping out my door to be greeted by this lovely lady, especially because I only have one full grown plant and I worry every winter about her making it through. But, strong, willful, and vibrantly feminine, she comes back.

She has the history, you know. A prominent member of the Labiatae family, she flaunts her square stem, opposite leaves, irregular flowers, and seductively aromatic body. Being woody, however, like her close relatives Lavender and Rosemary, I never cut her back. The new growth comes right out from last years branches. The years before I knew that were quite tragic.

I like to chew on one fresh leaf, on my way out to work or errands, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated as I chew, but calm at the same time. My mouth and teeth feel squeaky clean, and my throat chakra opens up. For sore throats, nothing cures like a mugfull of Sage brew with local honey. I instantly relax as my throat stops hurting and my lymph glands begin draining. The aromatic steam clears congested sinuses, and for very stuffy noses or a bought of clogged facial skin I will make a full-on steam: I make a pot of boiling water, then remove from heat and add a handful of Sage. Then I'll make a towel tent over my head so the steam penetrates my face and nose. Perhaps half the medicine is just how pleasurable this is.

Sage offers endless healing. She is one of my favorite herbs to steep in honey for an electuary. A muslin bag stuffed with Sage and brewed into the bath is restorative to the circulation and great for the memory like Rosemary. As an anti-viral, warming, diaphoretic herb, I reach for it when my children are ill with the fever or flu virus. And being a Labiatae, the family with high affinity for women, she offers profound support for female complaints such as water retention, PMS, hot flashes, hormonal pimples, candida overgrowth, and breast swelling. Being a drying herb, however, drinking regular amounts of Sage during lactation isn't such a great idea unless you really want to reduce your milk production.

Salvia has been used for centuries in beauty recipes. Sage infused vinegar is a divine rinse for darker hair. Sage footbaths are good for fevers and lung congestion, as well as directly for the feet if they are tired, sore or smelly; Sage is a natural deodorant, as well as anti-fungal. Sage was used for facial tonics by infusing in water or spirits, and for vulnerary and anti-arthritic ointments by infusing in fat or oil. One of my most favorite face creams is one that I make from White Sage (salvia apiana) infused in olive oil. It is simple and lovely.

I love Sage for her beautiful flowers. Like singing mouths she praises the late spring sunshine and welcomes the lapping bees and worshipful insects into her tender, intimate parts. Like Sheela-na-Gig, she sings of the Yoni-happy woman, who loves her body and treats her sensuality with passion, respect and empowered choices. She sings of irregular beauty; perfection. Of blooming out of old experiences, of learning from our own intuition, from our family and ancestors, and of treating equally with love our children, teens, mothers, career woman, and elderly. She sings of versatility, adaptability, complexity, and continuity. Her blue flowers speak of steady nerves, like her soothing cousins Skullcap and Lavender. and her unruly arms outstretched in glee celebrate the childlike divinity of life itself.

To some, this picture might provoke a remark "oh, that's common garden Sage". And indeed, if you are looking to purchase a plant from a nursery, this is how you will find the label for this particular species: Salvia officinalis - Garden Sage.

I suppose from the Wise woman's perspective of the ordinary being synonymous with extraordinary, this name is perfectly fitting. But if I were to make a story, one to relay the medicine and magic of this Goddess plant to my students, Children or Grandchildren, I would retain the name Salvia, as I do here in this mere post, for the purpose of conveying her true nature; Salvation.
I might tell stories of goats coming to life from terrible sickness by way of Sage compresses and infusions, of Gypsies growing Sage at each stop along their journeys, of Great Grandmothers treating their daughter's painful moontime with a fragrant Salvia brew, and of the village Midwife caring for the birthing woman who has bore down for too many hours with Sage infused oil warmed and lovingly massaged into her lower back.
I might tell her how I, myself, drank Sage tea with her when she was only three, on the front steps of our house, by the yellow daisies. And she just might feel a new found gleam of light for her younger brother, whose name happens to be Sage.

Beautiful Salvation,
Healing plant of green and blue,
I am blessed with all your beauty
I am cured with all your truth.

Fragrant lover of sun and air
Witch of Lunar cycles
Be green in all your glory
Be thanked for all you share

Beautiful Salvation
Keeper of the mind
Rejuvenate my memory
New spirit may I find

Blue lips upon the stalk
Speak secrets to my heart
Speak magic talk and ancient lore
Paint pollen breasted art

Honeybee hostess!
Belly bowl of nectar,
Teacher to the cold ones
Of open warmth and pleasure.

Grandmother wisdom
Quietly advise
Look through my cloudy tattered guise
and lead me back to me.

Grandmother knowing,
Raise me wise in green!
Show me ways of self and others,
Ancient rooted queen!

Blessed Be .... our dear Salvia!


Darcey Blue said...

That was the most beautiful description of dear salvia sage i've ever heard! Thank you sister ananda for expounding upon a much forgotten ally. absolutely stunning!!

Sage is going to be my herb of the week!!

Ananda said...

Wonderful! Thank you! I'm sure you are in for a most blissful week then .....
so glad you enjoyed:)